Monday, September 24, 2007

Judge Cohen's decision

A decision is forthcoming in the case of Rafael Izquierdo of Cabaiguan, Cuba, who is in the United States seeking to regain custody of his daughter. He is in court fighting the State of Florida, which argues that the daughter should remain with a foster family that has cared for her since her mother attempted suicide nearly two years ago.

The Herald summarizes the case here, and has provided daily coverage of the court proceedings.

One notable aspect of the case, as the Herald notes, has been the Cuban government’s silence. One suspects that if Fidel were in the saddle, this would be an opportunity for mass rallies and all the campaigning that surrounded the Elian Gonzalez case.

In Miami too, if you set aside questions about the State’s vigorous effort to deny the father custody, the case is less political than Elian’s; there is no equivalent of the “Miami relatives” of seven years ago, no calls that the child cannot become “a trophy for Fidel,” no national media attention, no Congressional involvement.

It all rests on the judge, and her determination whether Mr. Izquierdo is a fit parent.

One hopes that’s all that is involved.

I haven’t read all the charges and counter-charges in this sad case. If Mr. Izquierdo is found to be unfit to raise his child according to the standards we would apply to an American parent, then so be it.

But if a decision goes against him because he would raise his daughter in Cabaiguan, that would be unjust and damaging to American interests.

We who complain about the lack of rights in Cuba would be making things worse by abridging the parental rights of a Cuban man just because he lives in a communist country and chooses to live in his own country.

And we would damage the U.S. government’s ability to defend the rights of American parents who are precisely in Mr. Izquierdo’s position, seeking the return of their children from a foreign country. This is not a rare occurrence. Not to dredge up the Elian saga again, but this statement from that case from the career diplomat in charge of those issues at the time is pertinent. It outlines the challenges our diplomats face in defending Americans’ parental rights, the standards they try to uphold, and the damage we would do to American parents if we override a parent’s rights by saying we don’t like the conditions in the country where the parent lives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The boy deserves to be home with his family, en punto!